Is it to late for a small business to start a blog now?

We designers & developers live somewhat in the future and in the past at the same time. We try out the latest web app and social network, talk about responsive design and mobile first and advise our small business clients that they might not need a twitter account after all - because their target audience isn't there. Our clients on the other side are experiencing just the same. Many use social networks and modern smartphones, but have no idea what to make of a website or what services would be a great value added to their business if present on the website.

We can advise them with services we know - but how effective are those? More than one client I worked for now wants to get into blogging. Their heard it improves their "Google" - or that people visit the website more often. And I can only say that it make sense - as an SEO technique and if their audience/clients need to be educated. But do all businesses have clients that need to be educated? Yes.

Basically every business owner has information about their product on the website - but not many have background stories or content about the reasoning for certain business decision. So it's not to late to blog, as long as it lives on the main websites.

Last but not least. If you have a blog on the website show it. Not just a link on the side, show some content. And if after a while you see that more and more people "land" on a blog page and not on the home page, make sure that the visitors find the content you wanted to show gets some attention as well.

#blogging #smallbusiness #client #website

Google+: View post on Google+

Stop searching your perfect developer / print shop / vendor

How many times have I heard a co-designer expess their desire to find a better [...] (insert external resource who delivers goods by specification of a designer - aka Developer, Printer or Print Shop, Media Buyer, ...). Not because the current service provider or vendor does a bad job, but the main reasoning goes like this: "They should get back to us with suggestions how we could make the [...] (brochure, website, catalog, mobile app) better, faster, smoother or more interactive by using the latest technologies - after all they are the experts of their fields." And in that reasoning lies already the answer - they are the experts in THEIR fields. An external service provider will always try to deliver your project with solutions they know well - therefore with the least amount of effort. They are not interested in making your project "more" anything - unless they have a ready solution to sell you at high margin for them - thus making it "more costly".

And this is rightly so - this is their business. It's not their business to find great solutions for the communication challenges of your client. So stop looking for this kind of vendor because you know them already - they are your competitors.

It's part of the job of a designer to research the latest technologies and materials to adapt them for the communication needs of their clients. It's important as a designer to know what is possible and what not - you don't have to know exactly how it is done, but at least now what there is. You have to push your vendor into new fields or find the right vendor for a specific job. You are the one who should know, because your client relies on you to get the best solution to his problem. Don't try to outsource your competence.

#design #workflow #outsourcing

Google+: View post on Google+

Does our client know what content is? 6 Steps to better content!

Everybody talks about content and content strategy, but does the client actually understand you when you talk to him about content?

5 reasons a designer should graduate college

More and more I hear influential people talking about graduating college as a waste of time. There are even "scholarships" for not attending college. I think this is the wrong direction to go and here are my five reasons why a designer should graduate a college or university.

A guide to Evolution vs Revolution in Website-Redesign

How to decide if you need a complete new design or just some improvement? Here some questions to ask yourself and if you answer the majority with yes you need a complete overhaul.

5 techniques to get your creativity started

I've got an email from a reader of this blog with a common problem... how to get creativity started:

I am into graphic design, working as a finalizer for the last 10 years. I'm working in an Advertising Agency, I want to become an art director. I look at the ads on Ads of the world and get inspired. I found them very easy but when I'm trying to do something my mind doesn't open. Is there any exercise where i can learn and fullfull my dream of becoming an art director.

Being creative is one part of being an art director - and for sure the most fun part. As you can see from the blog there are other activities (organizing, planning, guidance to people) involved in real art direction. But as for creativity there are now really good resources and tools.

1) The word Creativity is a misconception

In advertising and design you mostly don't "create" but you "combine in a new and interesting way" - Don't get fooled by the word creativity - you don't have to reinvent the wheel, just use the wheel in a new way. To read more about this - here is an extensive lesson about "Creativity on demand"

For example: A friend of mine "stitched" his book on fabric instead of printing it on paper.

2) Use the tools the right way

So many people think that they know how to brain storm - but they don't. There are many creativity tools like leathering, brain storming, fishing etc. - but if you don't use them correctly you will not get results. I covered brain storming in this blog post - so read this and storm on.

3) Creativity comes from having many interests

One of the best ways to "open" your mind to creative ideas ist by having a "open" mind all the time. Don't just be interested in graphic design. I'm interested practically in everything (except passive sports = watching someone else doing sport). I want to know how the people lived 100 years ago in Siberia. I cook, hike, bike, run, go to museums about just everything. I listen to podcasts during work about the most desperate themes and from around the world. You don't have to remember everything but sometimes there are things that remain in your mind. And by taking this things from around the world into a new context you are really creative.

An example: It's quite usual here to collect stickers of soccer player for kids in Europe... everyone did this - I used the same principle for a firm. They made stickers from their employees and an album. Who finished the collection has received a price. And the benefit for the firm? All employees have finished the album and in the end everyone knew anyone in every department.

4) Creativity is Teamwork

The image of the lonely creative mind is still present in the minds of everyone. But actually the best creative ideas come from teams - small teams to be exact. Only by interacting and discussing your ideas you have the possibility to expand them and to iterate on them. A modern system for creative temawork is featured in my blog post on this site here.

5) Books and Cards that help

Here is a collection of books and Cards that can help you

Relaunch of my portfolio site – part 1: Own portfolio site vs. online portfolio site

There are beautiful portfolio sites out there in the web and I wanted to redo my portfolio site - but I had a few thoughts

Don't try harder

Sometimes things just won't work. You made a nice communication concept, build a campaign and everything the execution was impeccable. But when you and your client look at the results they don't meet the expectations. Now what should you do? Normally we would think that we would try harder - but you shouldn't.

Corporate Publishing doesn't need to be boring

I will start my new series about corporate publishing by demystifying a myth - corporate publishing is boring. I will show you in this lesson how you can make a graphically stunning article about the introduction of a new window hardware product line by telling a story.

Finding the right jobs for your trainee

I had in the past problems finding the right jobs for the trainees as I was caught up in my daily routine and when they actually showed up at my desk I wondered what would fit. I therefore setup a routine for finding jobs around the year to have them ready. Find out how I did it and the 3 rules for successfully managing a graphic design trainee.

Retouching to cut photo shooting costs?

As an art director one of your jobs is to ensure that the quality of the final product lives up to the standard you set. To ensure this quality you have to look at all aspects. We already discussed the copywriting part, now let's look at the photography.